Possible Side Effects Include …

I just finished shooting up.

I do this about once a month. In the privacy of my own home. It’s not that it’s a habit, or anything. I could stop, if I wanted to.

If I wanted to.

Sometimes it’s a toss up as to whether I want to or not. While the side effects are easy to see, the positive advantages are not. Is it really making me feel better? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

Should I just pitch it and look for some herbal substitute? Something more natural?

It’s not that I’m injecting anything illegal. This drug is registered for use with whatever arm of the Canadian government that watchdogs that sort of stuff. It’s all legit. On the up and up.

Which is a bit boring, but there you go.

I have a disease.

Don’t worry. It’s not contagious. You can’t catch it. I’m not a carrier.

I’ve struggled with this disease since my late teens, and over the years, I’ve swallowed most drugs known to humanity to try and control it. I’ve had stuff dripped into my veins that probably is not the best for my long term health.

Over the years, certain drugs have been successful … for a while. Sometimes months. Sometimes years. But, in the end, they have all lost their effectiveness, and I “graduate” to the next level.

The next level invariably comes with more side effects than the previous level.

I’m sure you’ve seen those commercials, on the American stations, for drugs. You see generally very happy people, happily going about their happy lives. The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Dogs are frolicking.

And then the speed talking announcer breaks in:

[Voice sped up 3x] Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, leg cramps, blurred vision, infections, fevers, chills, severe stomach pains, projectile vomiting, a tendency to scream obscenities in public, and an overwhelming urge to punch a nasty neighbour in the mush.

Oh, and the chance that you could die. That’s right; death is a possible side effect. If you feel any suicidal tendencies …

Each time I graduate to the next level of drug, I have to sign a waiver. All the possible side effects are listed. Like the Apple update license agreement, it is too long for any human to read.

Except for lawyers, I guess.

I used to have an old Polish gastroenterologist. While many found him off-putting, I enjoyed his frankness.

Doctor: [Heavy Polish accent] So, Ron, we need to try a new drug. It’s called an unpronounceable scientific name, but goes by the cool street name of Inhibitol.

Me: Is it registered for use in Canada? (Lots of drugs are only registered for use in the US)

Doctor: Yes, it’s registered in Canada. For horses. But initial studies seem hopeful.

Me: Are there any side effects?

Doctor: Yes, there are quite a few. The worst are going off your feed, neighing at your spouse, and defecating in public.

Me: Doesn’t sound so bad. I’ve done all of those things on some other drugs.

Doctor: Well, here’s the waiver.

Me: Give me the summary, Doc.

Doctor: In addition to opening yourself up to equine encephalitis, the main other side effect is death.

Me: Don’t sugarcoat it, Doc. Give it to me straight.

And then I sign it.

I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would you sign a waiver to take a drug that has death as a possible side effect?

Because I am desperate for health, and I hold out hope that the next drug is the miracle one.

So far, I haven’t found it.

To be continued …

Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Merry Xmas vs Christmas

 

It’s that time of year. People are busy: shopping, cleaning, decorating,  whining and complaining.

I think I’ve missed most of it this year, but there are generally a few themes that get pulled out, dusted off, and renewed around Christmas. In no particular order:

1) Happy Holidays / Winter Festival / Solstice Celebrations vs Christmas: I assume it’s happened this year. There is a person – or perhaps a group of persons – who is upset that any civic entity would utter the phrase Merry Christmas.

This includes buses. Yes, buses. They are not to be allowed to say Merry Christmas. Which shouldn’t be too hard, as they generally don’t say much at all.

This creates an uproar. And a backlash. An uproarious backlash, if you will. And I do. One side will agree. The word Christmas is not to be used by and public or civic organization.

The other side will fire back with freedom of speech, we’ve been doing it this way for longer than Canada has existed, and if you don’t like it, get out.

In other words, very Christmasy … er festive feelings and sentiment abound.

I used to get mildly upset, myself. Partly because I wondered why people would spend their energy on this kind of thing, and partly because it’s fun to bitch and complain.

Ish.

This year, though, I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy, trying to get the house ready by December 25. You know, I haven’t missed the controversy. At all. I am completely content to go around saying Merry Christmas in as friendly and happy a way as possible.

I have yet to think “Oh, perhaps I should say Happy Holidays, so as not to offend anyone”. Also, I have yet to notice that I have offended anyone.

My take away is this; while this issue is very important to a very small group of very active and vocal people, the vast majority have no issue with it. At all.

2) Put the “Christ” back in Christmas: This one also rears its head. You’ve taken Christ out of Christmas by using an X. Please put Jesus back. You are being disrespectful / thoughtless / discourteous / sacrilegious.

Especially sacrilegious.

I have watched this one – mildly – over the last years / decades. The truth is, I’ve never been too worried about using X to replace the word Christ in Christmas.

It is, after all, a time-honoured church tradition. That’s right: a church tradition.

Back in the day, before computers – and printing presses – all religious publishing (and that was about the only kind, back then) was done by hand.

Yes, by hand.

So the scribes looked for any shortcuts they could. Since they were using the word Christ a lot – on paper, one assumes – they developed a church-approved shorthand:

X.

Yes. X. Church approved. So if you are thinking Xmas is somehow sacrilegious, take it up with the church.

3) Starbucks is the Antichrist. Was it last year that Starbucks dared to change their coffee cups? Oh, the horror. Not the coffee cups! Anything but that.

I assumed that, previously, the publicly traded corporation had been displaying Christ in numerous ways: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, being flogged. You know, in some ways being overtly “Christian”, in a way that only a publicly traded corporation can be.

Apparently not.

So, this year, I decided to boycott Starbucks on Christmas day. That’s right. They crossed the line. I won’t put up with it … uh, whatever it was. Or is. Or …

This won’t be too hard, as I’ve only been in a Starbucks a few times in my life. I think I’ll manage.

Basically, I’ve decided not to get caught up in the political / consumerist / boycott-worthy Christmas shenanigans.

Instead, I’ll just try to surround myself with the people I love. That’s good enough for me. And if Merry Christmas is something you find offensive, I’ll provide an alternative: Happy Christmas, everyone.

By the way, for fun, I though I’d Google Merry Xmas and see what kind of images I could find. The answer? Almost none. Google simply returned pictures with “Merry Christmas” instead.

Apparently Google has no issue with Merry Xmas. In a way only a publicly traded corporation can.

 

Back In My Day …

Ever notice how things were tougher / higher / colder / harder when you were a youngster?

Your parents would talk about it. “Back in the 30s, things were so tough. The winters were so cold. We were so broke.”

They had a point. The 30s, from what I’ve read and heard, were like that.

I always kind of snickered, when I was a kid, when the grownups would talk about the old days. The stories of hardship would become more and more outrageous as each person would “one-up” the next.

If I would have known the word “bullshit” then, I would have called it. Wait, no I wouldn’t have. That would have had repercussions.

Serious repercussions.

I’m becoming my parents. It’s happened slowly. So slowly that I’ve hardly noticed it. “Kids today sure have it easy,” I’d say. “Back in the 80s, you could have fired a gun downtown and not worried about hitting anyone working. Jobs were that scarce.  Nowadays, the young folks complain that they can only get paid $14 and hour to serve coffee.”

I was thinking back to winters long, long ago.

I’m pretty sure they were colder. I’m sure that if I went back to the average temperatures of the 70s, they would be 47 degrees colder than today. In fact, I’m going to check.

Hmmm. It appears that Uncle Google is malfunctioning. Getting a bit senile. Apparently there is only a difference of about 1 degree or so. Actually less.

Which is wrong, because I’m pretty sure it was at least 37 degrees colder back then.

And more snow. There was so much snow. How much? Let me just check the old Google Machine again. Hmmm. Looks like an average snowfall of 47 feet, when I was younger. This compares to 1.3 feet these days.

Which is all something in meters.

Yep. I knew it was more, back then.

I think the perception that things were tougher / better / worse back in the day is that we only really remember the really big events. Like the huge snowstorm, when you couldn’t leave the yard for days. Or it was so cold, all the pipes in the house froze. Or the time it rained for 5 weeks straight. (Just kidding about the last one. It never rained when I was a kid. It was less of a drought and more of a desert.”

These unusual events become the normal thing in our minds. So if the winter of ’73 was brutally cold, that’s what we remember. It’s just that our minds get a little tricky and apply that one winter to every winter ever.

Of course these ones don’t measure up.

When I think back to brutal winters, I remember one in particular. Sorry, I’m not the “back in ’71” kind of guy. Weather doesn’t make much of an impression on me. Except when it’s stinking cold. Or wet. Or dry. Or too hot.

I’m not sure what year it was, but I was young. There was so much snow that I could step off a snow bank and onto the chicken coop. My brother and I spent days digging snow forts.

Which is why I know that winters – and therefore me – were tougher back in the day. Because one winter was really bad.

Thinking back, I suspect the rest might have been average.

The Cap’n, Christmas, And Me

Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch and his wonderful breakfast cereal.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, or not, but Christmas is coming.

Sorry to spring it on you, like that.

Like Scrooge, I was thinking of Christmases Past. When I was a kid, Christmas was an amazing time of year.

I never realized that money was tight, back then. I was a kid. I had food when I wanted it, clothes on my back, and a place to sleep. Sure, we didn’t have any of the extras, but that never seemed to matter.

Christmas was special. The first Christmas I can remember, I was three. At least I think I was three. My dad was there, and he didn’t live to see my fourth Christmas.

I can remember groggily sitting up in bed. Mom and Dad had crept past my bedroom door and moved into the living room. They had a bunch of bags and stuff with them, and they were moving very quietly.

I remembered that it made an impression. Why are they up? I thought. Then I promptly fell back asleep.

It only seemed moments later that my brother was shaking me awake. “It’s Christmas!” he shouted.

I tried to go back to sleep, but he wouldn’t let me. I don’t think I knew what Christmas was.

We went to the living room. It seemed like there were presents everywhere. I can remember tearing off wrapping paper and throwing it around.

I can’t remember a single present I got. Well, that’s not completely true. I do remember one gift. I’m hesitant to tell you what it was, and that it was what I looked forward to for every Christmas after. I feel like you might judge me and find me wanting.

I got a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal.

I know. What a lame gift. Right? Who would be excited about cereal?

Me.

As I mentioned, although I didn’t know it, things were pretty tight. Breakfast, for us, was pretty plain: toast, jam, and oatmeal.

Almost always oatmeal.

Cap’n Crunch was not oatmeal. Not by a long shot.

I can still see myself opening the box and popping the first piece (Kernel? Or colonel, I suppose.) into my mouth.

I had never tasted anything so sweet in my life!

The crunch! The taste! The sweetness! All things that I had never before experienced in the same mouthful. Obviously, this confection had been stolen from the gods themselves.

For many Christmases after that, I looked forward to a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. When I bit into the cereal, it was heaven. Every time.

I know this will seem like a small thing, to you. You have access to sugary cereals all the time. Alphabets. Apple Jacks. Froot Loops. These are all old news to you. You’ve tasted them all, and you can have them pretty much any time you want them.

And so they become worthless.

It’s not that these cereals are good for you. I know that it says “Contains 7 Essential Nutrients” on the box. Or it’s made from “100% whole grains”. We know that this is just marketing.

What it should say is “This box contains candy.”

No parent would buy that. Even though we know the whole grains thing is a bunch of BS.

Here’s my rule of thumb; If a kid likes a cereal, it is no good for you.

Oh, but what great memories I have of consuming this crunchy, sugary goodness! I’m not sure what a box of Cap’n Crunch cost, back in the 70s. Probably not too much. Still, this simple gift was my favourite thing. For a long time.

At least until my brother and I got the Finger Dinger Man game. But that’s another story.

The Shocking Truth About Car Batteries In Canada

The Hoff and KITT, being all cool and stuff. I bet KITT never needed a new battery.

I went out to my vehicle yesterday. I needed a few things from Home Depot … or, as I call it lately, Home Away From Home.

You know you’ve been to a store too many times when the greeter calls you by name and asks how the wife and kids are doing.

It was a no go. A few grunts and groans, the dreaded tick tick tick … then, nothing.

Dead battery.

I got a boost, let it run for a while, and went off to the Depot. Left the car running. Got my stuff. Drove home.

I started it today. It wasn’t happy, but it started.

I think it’s time for a new battery. To be fair, it has done well. It’s an ’07, and the battery is original. So, that’s a good lifetime for a battery.

Also a good lifetime for a frog, but that’s not relevant.

The thing that ticks me off is that I had my suspicions about the battery a few months ago. If I wouldn’t drive it for a while, the car was not so happy to start. It felt a little strained.

It would have been easy to change the battery in September. Now it’s just cold. Really, really cold.

It’s not like a battery is such a big ticket item. Usually around a 100 bucks or so. Not the cheapest thing … well, when it comes to fixing vehicles, that is about the cheapest thing.

A good battery is not a luxury in this frozen land we call home. It’s a necessity.

I wonder what my thought process was, when I noticed the hesitation in fall:

Car: Ruhr. Ruhr. Ruhr. … Vroom.

Me: Hey, what’s up, car?

Car: I’m having a bit of trouble starting.

Me: What do you think the problem is?

Car: I’m still starting. It’s just a little hesitant. Probably the battery. It’s a little old, you know. Installed in 07. Or probably 06.

Me: Hmmm. Sounds really expensive. Car repairs are usually a minimum of $3600.

Car: Well, Costco probably has them for around 80 bucks.

Me: Yeah, but it must be pretty hard to change it out. Like I’d have to bring it in, and that would cost about $1400.

Car: I suppose you could do that, but really it’s two screws and replace.

Me: Doesn’t sound too bad. Still, it’s really nice out. This problem will probably sort itself out once the really cold weather hits. Right?

Car: [Voice of KITT from Knight Rider] Yes. Cold weather usually brings out the best in equipment that sits outside overnight. I can generally repair myself. Don’t worry about it. It will be fine.

Besides, it is quite adventurous to swap out a battery when it is 74 below. The frostbite really aids your fingers in the exchange.

Me: Hey, thanks, car. I figured it wasn’t very important. I mean how important is a car that starts when it is minus 89? Or leaves you stranded when there is a windchill of 112 below? I think I’ll just wait for spring, when it’s warmer.

Car: You, sir, are an idiot. You deserve every finger you lose due to frostbite. Don’t try to start me tomorrow. I’m off to Hawaii.

Stupid cars. They let you down, just when you need them. When it’s cold.

Without any warning.

Is It Somber In Here, Or Is It Just Me?

I laughed a lot today. A lot. And hard.

My friend, the electrician, was over today. Well, he’s an electrician by trade. He’s a comedian at heart.

While I was laughing, I also accomplished quite a bit of work. I was putting in plugs and switches. This is not skilled work. It is also not glamourous. I needed to get down on my knees, bend and strip wire, and turn screws. My back and knees ached.

It could have been a boring, monotonous day.

It wasn’t. The day seemed to fly by, and I was laughing my way through it.

I don’t know how it is with you, but when I’m with someone funny, I become funnier. It’s like I feel permission to be funny, so I am. I’m not sure why I think I might need permission, but it probably has something to do with my childhood.

Or sex. Or my mother. Or some other twisted way of looking at the world.

I’ve always enjoyed laughing. I generally find that life, when you look at its absurdities, is funny.

People, in general, seem to find fun a negative thing.

Case in point. My sons both played football, and I coached a lot of years. Or at least walked up and down on the sidelines checking a clipboard and talking to kids.

One of the strangest things about the pregame warmup was always the head coach’s “words of wisdom”.

The kids would be amped up, talking and goofing around. I remember, back in the day, being surrounded by this kind of talk. Lots of meaningless banter, threats to the other team, and where the cutest girls would be sitting.

Then it was time for the head coach’s speech.

“Get your game face on!” he would bellow, shocking the kids into silence. “We need to win this game, and we can’t do it if you are goofing around!”

Or words to that effect.

I think there is a sentiment out there that says you can’t be serious about something if you are having fun. That you can’t play or be your best if you aren’t all serious and somber. That you can’t accomplish something if you are laughing and keeping things light.

I call bullshit.

I loved the game of football. When I played football – back when we had to watch out for T-rexes – I was happy. Amped up. Enjoying life.

I had a smile on my face. No, I didn’t like losing, but, deep down, I was just happy to be there.

My game face is a smile. It is, after all, a game. It is supposed to be fun.

When my (step)dad died, I told some stories at his funeral. I told a couple that were funny, and the people were all laughing. Had I somehow shown disrespect for my dad by telling these stories?

I believe it was just the opposite.

In my mind, there is a difference between serious and somber. To me, somber is something that I don’t want. Somber means dark. Gloomy. Grave. Depressing. Dreary.

Joyless.

I was not somber at dad’s funeral. He had lived a long and full life on his own terms.

Serious is something else.

Dad’s funeral was serious, as are all passings. Serious as in important. Not serious as in somber.

I believe that humour makes life worth living. Makes it fun. Gives it life. It lifts us up and lets us share a laugh together. It brings us closer.

It lightens the load, whether that load is physical, mental or spiritual.

Get your game face on. Mine is a huge smile. What’s yours?

 

How I Forgot To Speak The Language

From when I was born until about age 5, we only spoke Low German at home. Low German is a dialect that is sort of a mashup of German, Dutch, and usually the odd English word thrown in. I assume I was fluent enough to get what I needed.

Then I went to school.

I don’t know if it was intentional – it probably was – but from then on, we only spoke English at home. In a very short period of time, I went from being fluent to being able to get the gist of things and not really being able to speak it.

From disuse, I had forgotten the language.

Years ago – probably a decade by now – I used to make a living in what is now the IT trade. I got pretty good at making websites. I learned HTML – the language of the internet – and managed to (mostly) bend it to my will.

When CSS came out, I thought I had gone to heaven. So many options!

I’m in the process of making a website for my son’s bluegrass band. (CDs are available, by the way.) In some ways things are easier. There are templates that help you get started. A lot of things that needed hand coding in the old days is now a click of a button.

Still, for fine tuning, you still need to know a few things.

I don’t.

Oh, I can figure them out. I know what I want to do, and Uncle Google always obliges with a step by step option. It takes a long time, though. If I was getting paid, I’d probably be making about a dollar per hour.

From disuse, I’d forgotten the language.

During my stint as a pastor, I wrote quite a bit. Studied. Wrote sermons. Presented them. My writing skills were pretty sharp. Using them on a mostly daily basis kept me in the flow.

Then, when my health failed me, and I didn’t have the energy to even write, my sharp skills became dull. Words became difficult to put together. What was once easy was now difficult.

From disuse, I’d forgotten the language of writing.

Of course, forgetting the language is not confined to an actual language, or an internet language, or a communication language.

Anytime we let something fall into disuse, we forget the skill that goes with it.

Maybe you were an active person, when you were younger. You loved moving around. You were fit and strong. You knew you could rely on your health.

Then, you got busy. Your career took off, and you began to work longer hours, coming home too tired to even think about putting on your workout clothes. You had kids that took up all of your time and energy. Your healthy food choices became less healthy.

Your fitness habit had fallen into disuse. You’d forgotten the language of fitness.

Perhaps you have a significant other. The language of love came easy to you. In the beginning. You were head over heels. You spouted all sorts of nonsense and felt great about doing it. The words “I love you” were never far from your lips.

Maybe your love habit has fallen into disuse. Perhaps you’ve forgotten the language.

These things are not the end of all things. I’m pretty sure that, if I were surrounded by Low German speaking people all the time, I would quickly “remember” how to speak it.

If I was to study HTML and CSS again, I’m pretty sure my skills would come back fairly quickly.

I know that this works. My failing writing skills were one of the reasons that I gave myself the challenge to write at least 500 words a day for 50 days. I needed to dust them off, shake of the ring rust, and other clichés that mean to sit my butt down in a chair and practice.

It is becoming easier each day. The words are starting to flow. I’ve always been a storyteller, and I notice that I am happier now that I’m making writing a habit.

I’ve let a lot of things fall into disuse, over the years: health, skills, language. I haven’t always communicated to the people I love as well as I could have.

This is not the end of all things.

Instead of wallowing in “I should haves” and “what ifs”, I can simply make a point of saying, doing, and being different. Starting now.

I’m pretty sure you could, too. If you wanted to. It just takes some guts to get started, again.

And then it all comes back.

I Am Canadian

A friend of mine took me to task for complaining about things. “We have it good. Complaining just gives people the feeling that complaining is OK.” While I wrote that particular piece with my tongue firmly tucked into my cheek, his comments got me thinking.

I have it good. Really good.

A hundred years ago or so, I was a history major. As I think about my middle class, middle aged life, I realized that I have it better than … say, Charles I, also known as Charlemagne.

Charlemagne ruled from around 760 to 810ish. This “father of Europe” was ruler over much of what is now Europe. He had millions of subjects. Servants to accommodate his every whim. He had plenty of cash and jewels in his vault.

He never had indoor plumbing like I have. He couldn’t walk over to the fridge, grab some leftover food and plunk it in the microwave. His castle was no doubt incredibly uncomfortable: hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. He had to constantly be prepared for war.

In short, this king’s life sucked, compared to mine.

As I was thinking about this, I thought I would list off a few things that make me think that Canada is a fantastic place to live. Some things may resonate with you. Some you will disagree with.

The fact that we can disagree on these things, and still be friends, strikes me as being distinctly Canadian.

Canada is open to “outsiders”. I know that this is not a sentiment that is popular in some circles, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t true. My people came from countries where persecution reigned. As they were being persecuted and killed, they looked for a place where they could live in freedom. Religious and otherwise.

They were welcomed to Canada.

When I hear the rhetoric of closing our borders, I think that we have forgotten something pretty important; unless we are native Canadians, our forebears all came to Canada as either immigrants or refugees.

All of us.

This is an important Canadian principle for me. So important, in fact, that I voted for a political party that I had never voted for. Ever. I felt, however, that the previous government was moving away from this Canadian trait.

So I voted. Not because of fiscal plans or any particular promise. I’m a bit jaded when it comes to political promises. No, I voted because I felt a particular party had different priorities that, at the time, seemed more Canadian to me.

Clean water. I know. Not a very big thing. Most of the time, I give water almost no thought.

I think that’s the point. If I lived in a country in what we call the developing world, it is likely that having access to clean water would be a big deal. A very big deal.

A life and death deal.

I can walk over to any tap in my home, turn it on, and drink clean water. I can take a shower and flush my toilet. King Charlemagne couldn’t do any of these things.

I do it all for pennies.

I know that not every Canadian has clean water. We haven’t always done the right thing. Sometimes issues of race, politics, and greed get in the way.

Over all, though, a large majority of us have access to abundant, clean water.

Medicare. I think that most people identify Canada with having universal health care. At a point in our history, we decided on something decidedly Canadian: every person – whether they could afford it or not – should have access to health care.

What that means is that you folks who are in good health are subsidizing people like me who aren’t.

In my lifetime, I have had a couple of very major surgeries and a number of less major ones. I have been injected with a variety of expensive drugs. I’ve had so many doctor’s visits that it wouldn’t be possible to count. I have been hospitalized for lengthy periods of time.

All this – literally – cost a fortune. Fortunately for me, the bill was picked up by the Canadian taxpayers.

If I lived in the US, I would be bankrupt and broke. My quality of life would be non-existent.

It is quite probable that I’d be dead.

That’s how important medicare is to a non-healthy person. And I believe that it was Canadian’s natural impulse to help others -that led to medicare’s creation.

In the next while, I’ll be putting up a few more ideas that I think of as uniquely Canadian. Maybe you will make a few comments yourself. I’d be interested to read them.

In the meantime: I Am Canadian.

 

A Taxman Cometh

 

The only things that are certain are death and taxes. Taxes are with you forever. At least with death, you only have to pay the taxman once. 

Carl Franklin, Ben Franklin’s illegitimate half brother

We all know that we will be paying taxes. Oh sure, every year there are people who manage to avoid paying them. They use loopholes, tax lawyers, and tax avoidance to not pay their taxes.

They are often called convicted felons.

Then there are the conspiracy types. “It is illegal for the government to collect taxes. According to the Oswald Supplement issued during WW1, the government can only collect taxes for the purchase of canned meats and sardines. Not for the running of a country. For sure not that.

Certainly not for peaches at high-faluting soirees.”1

In what I assume is righteous indignation, instead of filing their returns, they send a semi-legal letter to the government that goes something like this:

Dear Government of Canada:

You disgust me. It’s illegal to collect money for any use other than purchasing canned meats and sardines because of the Oswald Supplement of 1913. I, therefore, and hencewith, will not be sending in my tax return.

I hate your stinking guts.

Love,
“Rebel” Billy Bob Burnett

PS – Good luck trying to get any cash from me.2

The government gets these letters, turns them over to the CRA – Canadian [Money] Retrieval Agency (the Money is silent) – who then freeze the account and garnish their wages until they’ve paid what the government thinks is owed them.

They are free to do what they like with the $312.62 left over.

The government has become quite adept at taxation. This has happened for a number of reasons:

  1. It is expensive to run a country. Things like universal medicare are expensive. So, too, are building roads and patrolling borders. It is also not cheap to have plain, brown paper bags filled with cash laying around “just in case.”3
  2. According to the Constitution of Labrador, the government should be disliked. There has only ever been one government in Canada’s history that has been liked. In the year 1812 – 55 years before Canada became a country – America decided that they, too, wanted universal health care, and they decided to invade Canada to get it. This is because Napoleon was a douche bag and everyone hated France. General Brock decided to burn down the White House to cool things off, which resulted not only in great popularity for the crown, but was also the beginning of the popular saying “Don’t mess with Canada, or we’ll burn the White House down like it was 1812”.4
  3. The CRA needs to be self funding. “We don’t want no handouts,” said Bruno Gerussi, head of the CRA. “We – me, Jesse, and Relic – are proud of the work we do, and we are good at doing it. After all the expenses are paid, the government is free to do what it likes with the $312.62 left over.”5

The CRA’s – previously Revenue Canada, which had a much cooler ring to it so, naturally, it got changed – piece of resistance was the GST. Brought in under the Regan administration, the GST – Grab all the Stuff Tax – is a consumption tax of approximately 47% levied against every living – or dead – person in Canada.6

I know that this has been a fascinating and accurate – check out my citations at the end – essay, and I haven’t even begun to explore the latest, and most brilliant, tax yet: a tax against all carbon based beings.

As this covers everyone, you should expect taxes to continue rising in the future. The likelihood of taxes going down are in direct relation to hell freezing over.

  1. Source: Wikipedia, so you know it’s true.
  2. Actual letter to the CRA
  3. Source: Ron Maclean’s Magazine
  4. Brock, Isaac. How I Burned Down the White House and Made the Government Popular for The First Time In Canadian History – Which Hadn’t Yet Been Formed … Exactly. Plains of Abraham Publishers, 1813. http://google.ca
  5. Nick Adonidas, The Beachcombers. 1961-2037.
  6. Genuine imitation statistics, gathered through  double blind testing of a representative number (11) of mainly unemployed old white guys known as the “senate:”. http://itsapileoshite.ca

 

Bang Your Head For Metal Health

I am a music lover. I like listening to music. I like singing music. I like performing music. I’m not saying I’m particularly good at any of these things, but I love them, just the same.

For me, music can change my state like nothing else can.

The other day, I was driving around with the radio on. Cum On Feel The Noize by Quiet Riot came over the airwaves, and I was instantly transported back to 1983.

I spent much of the ’83-’84 school year in the basement of my friend Darryl’s place. He had a pool table, a hot tub, and more albums than I had ever seen before. He was a block from the school, so it was easy to pop over on short notice.

There was always a bit of danger associated with cutting class … I mean utilizing my numerous spares and heading over to his place.

His dad was the principal.

We’d head over, pick some tunes, shoot some pool and talk about girls. For a kid who didn’t get out much socially, it was pretty great.

Remember when the rumor was that “girls ROCK your boys” was actually something else? Ooh. Subversive.

When I hear that song, my mind often goes to 1983 in Darryl’s basement.

Songs can do that. They can transport you to a different place. They can take you to a place where you don’t feel so insecure. They can take you to a place where you feel powerful. The can take you to a place where you feel alive.

Too bad I never learned how to dance.

Michael Jackson was one of those performers who could change the state of just about anyone within earshot. The driving bass line of Billie Jean. Just Beat It … no one wants to be defeated.

And, of course, Thriller.

Thriller was the first music video I ever saw. The second, if you are curious, was Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes.

That video blew my mind. Thriller, I mean.

I remember thinking that I must have walked in on a movie or something. Except MJ was singing to a pretty girl. And there were zombies. Well, grisly ghouls, I guess. The dancing. The music. The singing. Vincent Price.

It was a completely new experience for me.

Thriller was also the first tape that I ever owned. I cranked it up in my Toyota Tercel and imagined I was a badass cruising down Main Street.

When I heard that Michael had gotten a billion dollar deal with Sony, I knew why: he could transform people’s states of mind.

Remember his Pepsi commercials? He refused to talk about Pepsi. Wouldn’t hold a can. Wouldn’t even appear in a shot with it. In reality, he didn’t like Pepsi, and yet, Pepsi paid him millions to advertise for them.

Why? His music changed people’s states of mind, and they associated that with Pepsi.

My musical tastes have changed, over the years. Different music turns my crank. Still, there is nothing like those songs you heard when you were coming of age.

When Jon Bon Jovi sings Gina dreams of running away, it always puts a lump in my throat. Even when I perform it. The first few bars of Sweet Home Alabama have me saying “turn it up.” Summer of ’69 has me reaching to crank up the volume.

Music can transport me to another place and time, and it makes me smile.